Triglyceride-Increasing Alleles Associated with Protection against Type-2 Diabetes

Yann C. Klimentidis, Akshay Chougule, Amit Arora, Alexis C. Frazier-Wood, Chiu Hsieh Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Elevated plasma triglyceride (TG) levels are an established risk factor for type-2 diabetes (T2D). However, recent studies have hinted at the possibility that genetic risk for TG may paradoxically protect against T2D. In this study, we examined the association of genetic risk for TG with incident T2D, and the interaction of baseline TG with TG genetic risk on incident T2D in 13,247 European-Americans (EA) and 3,238 African-Americans (AA) from three prospective cohort studies. A TG genetic risk score (GRS) was calculated based on 31 validated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We considered several baseline covariates, including body- mass index (BMI) and lipid traits. Among EA and AA, we find, as expected, that baseline levels of TG are strongly positively associated with incident T2D (p<2 x 10-10). However, the TG GRS is negatively associated with T2D (p=0.013), upon adjusting for only race, in the full dataset. Upon additionally adjusting for age, sex, BMI, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and TG, the TG GRS is significantly and negatively associated with T2D incidence (p=7.0 x 10-8), with similar trends among both EA and AA. No single SNP appears to be driving this association. We also find a significant statistical interaction of the TG GRS with TG (pinteraction=3.3 x 10-4), whereby the association of TG with incident T2D is strongest among those with low genetic risk for TG. Further research is needed to understand the likely pleiotropic mechanisms underlying these findings, and to clarify the causal relationship between T2D and TG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1005204
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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